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Feces, Urine, and Litter Oh My — A Guide to Litterbox Issues

Litter box issues can be one of the most trying times for cat owners. However, there is always a cause, and many times issues can be easily fixed with a little bit of patience and dedication. 

Before you begin ruling out other issues, set up an appointment to see your veterinarian. Cats, just like other animals, are great at hiding pain and discomfort. Rule out all potential medical causes before proceeding. 

Below are a list of helpful tips to consider when dealing with litter box issues:

Have one litter box per cat plus one extra.

Litter boxes should be placed in social areas and not kept hidden. Your cat does not want privacy when using the bathroom. They want everyone to know your home is their territory. While litter boxes are not very attractive, your cat will thank you for helping them feel more secure in their territory. Recommended social areas to keep litter boxes include but are not limited to the living room, bedroom, or any place your cat enjoys spending time. 

There is a chance that your cat may be avoiding the litter box because they were previously ambushed by either another pet or person, or they associate that litter box with pain. Create a more positive association by adding a new litter box that is different design. Keep in mind though, your cat needs an escape route so uncovered litter boxes are your friend. 

Use cat attractant litter. Most contain a natural herb that will attract your cat to use the litter box.  If you are unable to purchase cat attractant litter, aim for a litter than simulates natural substances (dirt, sand, etc.) that is unscented. Cats do not want an overwhelming smell of chemical fragrances when they use the litter box.

Add enrichment into your cat’s life. This can help them be more secure with their surroundings. Provide toys like climbing shelves, cat towers, and puzzle feeders.

Stress is another factor that can play a part in your cat’s aversion to the litter box. If you have a yard or live on the ground floor you could have a pesky neighborhood cat threatening your cat’s territory. Consider leash training your cat if this is the case. This gives your cat a chance to stake their claim on their territory in a safe way.

Changes to your cat’s environment. This can be things like a new child in the home, moving, roommates or a new furry friend. Adding extra enrichment into your home can help aid in the transitions occurring in your cat’s life. Another favorite tool is calming sprays and diffusers. This is not a quick fix, but can help take the edge off of your stressed out cat.

Litter box issues are not the end of the world and you can survive them. Good luck and please use your vet as a resource!